In Review: Mum’s the Word Exhibition at Silvie

 In Review

We all know change in life is inevitable and it amazes me how when change happens, people in your community come from all angles with support, words of wisdom and honest thoughts on how a change has also affected them. Since finding out I’m pregnant, this has certainly been then case and I was delighted when Kate Thirlwall got in touch to tell us about new exhibition, Mum’s the Word, at Silvie on Iffley Road.  I went along last week to find out more…

So how did Mum’s the Word start Kate?

The exhibition came into being after I gave birth to Otto, now 20 months old, and I needed a way to process the changes happening to my mind, body and relationship with my partner. I’ve been writing  poetry from a young age and so started writing honest poems to my friend who also gave birth a little girl, Astrid, around the same time, asking – are you feeling like this too? In response her husband Tim Smyth, a Norwich based illustrator, drew a picture in response. From that point on an exchange of feelings, poems and illustrations took place and now forms the 12 works in the exhibition.

Did you know it would end up as an exhibition?

No, not at all. It was initially just a keepsake and way for us to process the many feelings you have in the 1st year of parenthood. You experience everything from happiness, body image changes, gratitude, relationship changes, and everything in between!

What do you want people to feel or experience when seeing the work?

I think when we have children, we’re conditioned to go back out in the world feeling “normal” immediately. We can experience social pressure to return to normal too quickly and along with the immense joy and beauty of welcoming a baby there is also a lot of turbulence and intense feeling around the change. Non judgemental support and conversation around this is really needed for new parents’.

Do you have any favourites in the exhibition?

Not necessarily favourites but certainly key poems that stand out. The first poem I wrote “How Are You?’ was in response to the vast number of people who asked that question after Otto was born. How are you supposed to answer that question when you’ve no idea how to put such a shear volume of emotions into a handful of sentences of casual conversation?

What’s next?

Ideally Tim and I would like to publish the exhibition into a book so if anyone knows of a publisher, get in touch! I’d also love it if we could also get famous mothers to read the poems to boost the much needed conversations about the expectations surrounding motherhood.

In terms of new poems and artwork, we’re interested in producing a series on toddlers. Tim is really interested in the visual qualities of Tarot cards and it would be fun to explore themes of tantrums using these. Watch this space!

Finally any top tips for a new or soon to be mother?

That’s tricky! People give you so many hints, tips, tricks and opinions as soon as you mention you’re pregnant and you need to take them with good dose of salt and common sense but here’s my top three.

1. Take some time during pregnancy to prepare for labour and research hypnobirthing, mindfulness and positive birth if you can. There are excellent retreats for pregnant mothers and taking the time to understand labour can help you hugely to have an empowering birth

2. Once baby arrives, stay hydrated and keep a good stash of dried fruit on hand. You’ll be knackered and need that quick, healthy sugar boost to keep you going!

3. Research the fourth trimester – the first three months post birth are a key time for you to listen to your body and nourish yourself. It can be easy to host lots of visitors but think about pacing yourself and asking people to bring you meals, help you to take rest when you need and take any offers of support that are on hand.

Find out more on the Mum’s the Word website and follow Kate and Tim on Instagram: @marceaukate and @timbosmyth

Mum’s the Word is on at Silvie on Iffley Road from 25th Feb to 6th April.

Why not grab yourself a slice of cake and a coffee and enjoy Kate’s poems and Tim’s illustrations?

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